12 Pages of Tzemach Tzedek’s Handwriting Disappeared, 3 Were Found

It was Simchas Torah in the summer at the Chabad Yeshiva of Netanya when three teshuvos of the Tzemach Tzedek, written in his ksav yad kodesh, were brought in on their way to the Rebbe’s library in New York.

By Anash.org reporter

A regular day at the Chabad Yeshiva in Netanya turned into Simchas Torah when their rosh yeshiva brought in a number of priceless manuscripts of the Rebbeim before they were handed over to the Rebbe’s Library in New York.

The manuscripts two pages written in the ksav yad kodesh of the Tzemach Tzedek, containing three teshuvos, and a lengthy teshuva written by Harav Yehuda Leib of Yanovutch, known as the Maharil, the Alter Rebbe’s younger brother and close confidant.

These manuscript of the Tzemach Tzedek’s teshuvos was owned by the Frierdiker Rebbe and were part of his archives that were looted by the Nazis following their invasion of Poland. The archives were later taken by the Russian Government following their defeat of Nazi Germany.

These archives are separate from the famous ‘Schnerson Collection’ which was a collection of the Rebbe Rashab which was nationalized by the Russian Government. That collection was housed in the Lenin Library for years before being (partially) transferred to Moscow’s Jewish Museum. This collection, however, remained in the army archives and was only discovered approximately 25 years ago.

The teshuvos that were redeemed had originally been part of a full volume of the Tzemach Tzedek’s teshuvos, all in his ksav yad kodesh, which was in the Military Archives. At some point in recent years, after Chabad was already working on having it returned, 12 pages were ripped out of the volume and disappeared. The location of most of the pages remains unknown, but these 2 pages were tracked down, redeemed and returned to their proper place.

The provenance of the Maharil’s teshuva is entirely different. The teshuva, which was never published in any format, was unknown of until it showed up a number of years ago. Some scholars assume that it also came from the Schneerson Collection, but being that the teshuva doesn’t appear on any catalogs the Rebbe Rashab and Frierdiker Rebbe made of their collections, that hypothesis has yet to be proven. Regardless, it is certain that the teshuva had belonged to the Rebbeim.

After years of circulating between collectors and auction houses, the manuscripts were redeemed through the efforts of Rabbi Moshe Orenstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Tomchei Temimim in Netanya, with the support of group of businessmen from France and Crown Heights.

Last week, when he brought the manuscripts to his yeshiva, the bochurim immediately gathered to learn the teshuvos, followed by a festive farbrengen that lasted for hours. The farbrengen concluded with joyous dancing, as if it was Simchas Torah in Sivan…

The next day, the priceless manuscripts were brought to the Rebbe room in 770 by Rabbi Orenstien together with the Rebbe’s secretary Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, and West Coast Head Shliach Rabbi Baruch Shlomo Cunin who was appointed by the Rebbe to redeem the seforim. It was then brought to the Rebbe’s library.

In the coming weeks, the Maharil’s teshuva will be published to allow the wider public to study from it for the first time.

VIDEO: Rabbi Berel Levine tells the whole story of the manuscripts

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